Time for God – a reflection on the Third Commandment for middleschoolers

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“Remember the sabbath day—keep it holy.” (EXODUS 20:8)


I always remember the Sabbath—mainly because my parents would never let me forget it. We go to 10 o’clock Mass every Sunday morning. It’s a commitment we make, even though I like having free time on my weekends to play sports with my friends.

Not everyone pays attention to the Sabbath. My older brother lives on his own, and we only see him occasionally at the 10:00 a.m. Mass. He usually sleeps in after being out late on Saturday. During football season he doesn’t even go to the Sunday evening Mass because he watches the games on TV. My next-door neighbor is a soccer coach. He leaves his house nearly every Sunday morning, but he’s on his way to the soccer field.

I see other people making sacrifices in order to keep the Sabbath, however. My older sister is a doctor at our local hospital. Sometimes she works 36 hours straight. In that case, she uses her break to go to Mass in the hospital chapel. Dad’s sister, Aunt Mary, works for a television ministry. They televise the Sunday Mass so people who can’t get to church can participate.

My dad says that, when he was growing up, Sunday was set aside as a family day. His mother made a full dinner, and his aunts, uncles, and even cousins came over. Stores were closed, there were no bus service or mail deliveries, and the Internet didn’t even exist!

Dad says even if someone works at a power plant or goes out to sea for weeks at a time with no access to the sacraments, they can still pray and honor the Sabbath in some way. My cousin is in the military overseas. He prays every day, even though he can’t often set aside one whole day as a Sabbath day.

The third commandment is not only about going to Mass and honoring God; Dad says it’s meant for more. It’s about setting aside time for God during the week, too, and doing good.

God gave us his commandments because they help us to live better. “God knows that we need time to think about our lives and our relationship with him,” my mom told me. “We need our rest. Honoring the Sabbath helps us through every moment of every day.”

“For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth … but on the seventh day he rested.” (EXODUS 20:11)

THINK: The Hebrew origin of the word Sabbath is shabbāth, which means “to rest.” What keeps you from “resting” with God? How do you feel when you haven’t gotten enough rest? Do you ever have difficulty making time for God?

TRY IT: Start carving out a bit more time each day for prayer and reflection. Treat Sundays like a true Sabbath day, spending it first with God at Mass, and then with family. And don’t be afraid to quietly rest in God’s presence.


Terence Hegarty is editor of Living With Christ.

This article appeared in Catechist magazine, Nov/Dec 2016.

Image credit: Shutterstock 155372147


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